Every day, Barry Brown walks out to the North Stradbroke Island headlands with a camera in his hand, hoping to catch a unique moment, such as a whale spouting or a fur seal relaxing on a rock.
Last week, Brown was looking for birds to shoot in his normal location near Whale Rock at the South Gorge hike on the island southeast of Brisbane.
That morning, several osprey had flown in from their close-by nest to compete for fish in the water. Brown, though, noticed one osprey thrashing its wings and straining in the water about noon.
“I turned on the camera and zoomed in. I didn’t see any fish, the man claims.
“I had a strong sense of anxiety. Man, if I had a surfboard, I would have jumped in and done something.
Brown’s realization was quickly followed by the sight of local surfer Bill Lowe and a friend getting on their boards and paddling out to the bird.
They discovered the creature’s wings and feet wrapped in fishing line.
After making only a few unsuccessful attempts to gently free the osprey, a nearby fisherman put a knife to the end of his rod and held it out to them.
After successfully cutting the line, they tried to bring the worn-out bird back to land.
However, when Lowe placed his hands beneath the osprey, the bird clung to them and drew blood.
Yes, it wasn’t a serious injury. His tiny talons poked me a little bit, but I managed to get him back in the water and onto my soft board so he could grip on, according to Lowe.
Brown had already shifted into “journalist mode” by that point, snapping as many pictures of the rescue as he could.
Brown brought down a towel as soon as he noticed the osprey had reached the shore, and together they moved the bird to a remote area on the headland away from the South Gorge walk visitors.
The butcherbirds were surrounding the osprey as it dried out on the grass, and Lowe’s grandsons, who had been collecting plastics on the beach that morning, kept an eye on it and shooed them away.
It eventually stopped shaking, according to Brown.
It displayed the characteristic behavior of an osprey, in which the head and neck move side to side, the shoulder is raised, one of the wings is raised, and a slight left-to-right gait is displayed.
“Oh right, here we go, I thought. As a result, it gained a proper run before spreading its wings and taking off. All is well.
As a member of a “very dynamic, observant community that tries to see the positive in every day,” Brown claims he feels privileged.
This is only evidence that occasionally, despite all the stress and challenges that exist in the community and the environment, some positive things take place, he claims.
I was simply present in my usual location.
This article by Eden Gillespie was first published by The Guardian on 23 July 2022. Lead Image: Back on dry land: the rescued osprey dismounts its rescue craft. Photograph: Howling Planet.
What you can do
Support ‘Fighting for Wildlife’ by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute. Thank you.
Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.